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Hogmanay: Hello, New Year
In Scotland, New Year's Eve is called Hogmanay, and celebrations continue the next day with customs such as "first-footing"—visiting your neighbors with gifts that include whisky, all with the purpose of bringing good fortune. It's so important that January 2 as well as January 1 is a holiday in Scotland; the rest of the United Kingdom settles for recuperating on January 1. Other places in Scotland have public celebrations, but Edinburgh's multiday event at sites in the heart of town is famous throughout Europe and beyond, with something for everyone.Yes, it's still winter and cold, but joining the festivities with up to 80,000 other people can be memorable.
Edinburgh's Hogmanay extends over five days with spectacles and performances (music, dance, and more); the yearly-changing lineup includes many free events. Festivities featuring fire add a dramatic motif; buildings may open for rare night tours; a ceilidh offers dancing outdoors to traditional music; and family concerts and serious discussions during the day round out the agenda. At the heart of Hogmanay, though, is the evening street party on New Year's Eve, with different music stages, food and drink (and people do drink), and the heart-lifting—despite the cold—sight of glowing fireworks over Edinburgh Castle and the singing of "Auld Lang Syne," written by Scotland's own Robert Burns.
A little planning is in order. Costs vary: entering the New Year's Eve street party costs around £10, and certain entertainments that night will cost more (a concert may be £30 or so, including the street party fee), but an outdoor fire installation on December 30, say, might be free. Book rooms ahead. Prices may go up, but look for multi-day packages; it's also easy to take buses outside the center. Obvious but essential is warmth: crazy hats and the bundled-up look are de rigueur. Check out www.edinburghshogmanay.com for full details, and have a happy Hogmanay!
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